"As a young man of 17, in South India, he suddenly had an overwhelming sense of
imminent death. So sure was he that he was about to die that he simply lay down and
relaxed into the inevitable. Holding still as a corpse and holding his breath, as though
already dead, he inquired into 'who' it was that died. What he realized was that the 'I',
the awareness itself didn't die. This was not just an insight, but a deep and permanent
awakening to his eternal Self. A few weeks later he traveled to Arunachala Hill, an
ancient sacred site, where he spent the next 50 years teaching others of this Self, and
giving the silent transmission of awakened consciousness until his death in 1950."
'Annamalai Swami was not the only one puzzled by Bhagavan's statements to the effect that
silence is the equivalent of ceaseless speech and ceaseless work. Once he gave another
devotee a similar answer asthat which he gave Annamalai Swami who began complaining to
him, "I do not know where this 'I' is."
Bhagavan answered him saying: "Be where the 'I' is." The following day the same
man told Bhagavan, "I don't know whether to go back to my village and do my work or
just keep quiet."
Bhagavan said, "Eating, bathing, going to the toilet, talking, thinking, and many
other activites related to the body are all work. How is it that the performance of one
particular act is alone (considered) work? To be still is to be always engaged in work. To
be silent is to be always talking."'
From "Living by the Words of Bhagavan," Annamalai Swami
spirit of harmlessness that permeated the sage and his environs made
even animals and birds make friends with him. He showed them the
same consideration that he did to the humans that went to him. When
he referred to any of them, he used the form 'he' or 'she' and not
'it'. Birds and squirrels built their nests around him. Cows, dogs
and monkeys found asylum in the Asrama. All of them behaved
intelligently - especially the cow Laksmi. He knew their ways quite
intimately. He would see to it that they were fed properly and well.
And, when any of them died, the body would be buried with due
gentleman from Kashmir came to the Ashram with his servant who
could not speak a word of any other language except his native
Kashmiri. One night when the Hall was almost dark except for the
pale glimmer of a single hurricane lantern, the servant came into
the Hall and stood before Bhagavan in a respectful manner
jabbering something rapidly in his own language. Bhagavan said
nothing, but lay quietly gazing at him. After a while the servant
saluted and left the Hall. Next morning his master came to
Bhagavan and complained. "Bhagavan, you never told me you
could speak Kashmiri, was it fair?''
what do you mean?'' asked Bhagavan. "I know not a single word
of your language.''
asked the gentleman how he had got hold of this absurd idea and
the latter explained:
night my servant came to you and asked you several questions in
his language. He tells me that you answered him in the same
language and cleared his doubts.''
I never opened my mouth.'' Bhagavan replied.
"A Sadhu's Reminiscences" by Sadhu Arunachala
ever knew that this boy would become a saint some day? But many
of the important events in life come about by chance.
Venkataramana became a saint. How did it come about?
When the boy was sixteen
years old, one day a guest came to the house of Subba lyer. He was
asked where he came from. He replied, "From Arunachala."
The word attracted Venkataramana's curiosity. He asked: "Was
it from Arunachala you came? Where is it?" The guest replied:
Tiruvannamalai itself is Arunachala."
Something attracted the
boy. He made up his mind then and there that he should visit
Apeetha Arunagiri lived in India for 30 years near the temple town of
Tiruvanamalai in Tamil Nadu. Initially drawn there as a devotee of
Ramana Maheshi, she stayed and was instrumental in forming the Annamalai
Reforestation Society dedicated to replanting the sacred mountain
Arunachala. This is her story and the story of the Arunachala Village
Forest Plantation, a small scale village-based group which she also
The wonderful work this group is doing, digitizing and restoring photos of the
great Indian sage Sri Ramana Maharshi, has been a great inspiration to our own work here
at the Prahlad Foundation. Many wonderful pictures available!